Letters to the Editor — July 10, 2015

Reader: Beach Cove aquaculture a bad idea


As a retired marine biologist from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, I would like to add a couple of points to the oyster aquaculture debate. Oyster aquaculture has been promoted as a “potential” means to improve the health of the Inland Bays. Will that actually happen? Maybe. Maybe not. A lot depends on where it’s implemented.

(1) Environmental risks have been understated.

Shallow water warms quickly, especially on sunny days and where it’s not mixed with deeper, cooler, more oxygenated water. As water temperatures rise, the amount of oxygen that the water can hold decreases, while the amount of oxygen that organisms use increases. This recipe drives oxygen to drop below levels where fish, crustaceans, worms and beneficial bacteria are able to survive.

You may have seen videos of oysters filtering particles in an aquarium over the course of several hours. Quite effective. But think about adding more particles the next day. And the next. Now raise the temperature to 75 degrees. 80 degrees. (The water temperature was 85 degrees in Beach Cove on June 22 — wait ’til July and August). What do you think the aquarium will look like then?

Low oxygen is a serious and well-documented threat from shellfish aquaculture, especially in shallow, slow-moving waters such as Beach Cove. It will be made worse by power-washing the oysters and their gear. It can kill the beneficial organisms in the area and lead to a “rotten eggs” odor.

While this warning has been conveyed by several of the same authors cited in Delaware’s core background document, “Shellfish Aquaculture in Delaware’s Inland Bays: Status, Opportunities and Constraints,” I cannot find where it’s been given the consideration that it needs in Delaware’s oyster farming debate.

In the past year there have been several articles in the Washington Post and elsewhere that claim that oysters do well in the “shallow” (10- to 20-foot) waters of the Chesapeake Bay. However, those waters are much deeper than the proposed shellfish site for Beach Cove (2.5 to 3.5 feet at low tide), and much better able to handle the oxygen demands of commercial aquaculture. So while it may be OK in the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay, aquaculture poses a very real threat to oxygen levels in the very shallow waters of Beach Cove.

These very shallow waters pose a different kind of threat to oysters in the winter months. During one period earlier this year, the aquaculture site in Beach Cove was frozen over for 22 consecutive days. Oysters simply cannot survive in these conditions.

(2) Environmental benefits have been overstated.

Proponents cite numbers that imply that farmed oysters could filter the total volume of Delaware’s Inland Bays in a week or two. If this seems far-fetched, it’s because the estimate was made by multiplying X number of oysters by Y gallons of water filtered. In reality, the biology, chemistry and water currents that we call Mother Nature are much more complex — it’s not a simple arithmetic formula.

The estimates cited by aquaculture proponents imply much more to the general public than would actually be achieved. In fact, two studies in Chesapeake Bay observed no difference in nitrogen reduction between waters with suspended aquaculture and waters without.

Claims that shellfish aquaculture has the “potential” to help re-establish eelgrass in the Inland Bays are true. But whether that might actually happen, where and to what extent are speculative at best.

For Beach Cove, maps in the Center for the Inland Bays 2011 State of the Delaware Inland Bays report indicate that waters were already “satisfactory” for reestablishment and growth of eelgrass. And nitrogen levels (the nutrient most likely to be reduced if aquaculture is successful) already meet or are better than the standard. So why introduce the risks of shellfish aquaculture?

In general, oyster aquaculture should do better in the deeper areas of the Inland Bays where there is more water and current, and do worse in the shallower areas, especially where flows are sluggish, such as Beach Cove. The environmental impacts, either good or bad, are likely to be localized, perhaps within several hundred feet or yards of the sites. Nonetheless, problems associated with low oxygen would be significant to residences as near to aquaculture sites as the homes around Beach Cove.

Other states in the Northeast have shellfish aquaculture programs, and they are attentive to residential concerns. There’s commercial gear in the Peconic Bay of eastern Long Island, but people don’t notice it from shore because it’s kept away from residential areas. Maine requires a public hearing for experimental lease applications (up to four acres) if more than five people request it, and in all cases for its larger standard lease applications.

Beach Cove is surrounded by six residential communities with more than 200 property owners. There is no doubt they will be negatively impacted, perhaps more so than previously realized, and should have substantial voice in any decision on aquaculture in Beach Cove.

Aquaculture may have its place in the Inland Bays, but it’s not in Beach Cove.

Bob Batky
Ocean View

CATS thank community for their support


On behalf of the Cats Around Town Society, I would like to thank these community businesses for their continued support for displaying our donation banks over the years.

The businesses are as follows: All Aboard Kennel; Bethany Beach Books; Bethany Diner; Al Casapula’s; Fox’s Pizza; Gypsy Teal; House Pets; Ocean View, Del.; Ocean View Animal Hospital; State Farm Insurance; Turtle Beach Café; and the UPS Store.

We would also like to thank the Elaine C. Moore Foundation for their generosity through grant funding. Your generosity has helped us raise much-needed funds for our TNR program (trap, neuter and release). This program is the most humane and practical way of stabilizing cat populations and reducing them.

As advocates who support policies to protect all cats, we support you and wish your businesses ongoing success. If any business would like to display a CATS donation bank, please contact Betty Brown at (302) 858-1623.

Betty M. Brown
Cats Around Town Society

Gala a success, thanks to many


The annual Contractors for a Cause Gala was held on Saturday, June 13, at the old-fashioned temporary “speakeasy” set up at the new Frankford fire hall.

This year, the event committee outdid themselves in organizing and planning the first-ever theme-structured Gala to raise money for the worthy community causes for the lower Sussex County area. The theme was a “Roaring Twenties Prohibition Ball,” and the night certainly lived up to its billing.

Most of those in attendance donned their best “flapper or gangster” attire and truly added to the festive atmosphere of the evening. The event planners even provided long strings of “pearls,” boas, fedoras and tiaras to add to the event’s merriness.

Richard Bloch form Dickens Parlour Theatre loaned the event his late-model renovated 1933 Plymouth, and Mike Orhelein donated 1920-style photos to all in attendance in front of the classic car, to commemorate the period-themed evening. Delaware Distillery provided the custom crafted libations, beer and bartenders for the bar and kept everybody well lubricated for the evening’s fun and frivolities.

Mac’s Catering served a “roaring” feast with a 1920s flair, while D.J. Decibel from Kevin Poole Productions kept the tunes spinning though out the event. The evening’s activities included table games (craps, blackjack, and roulette) manned by volunteer dealers from our local casino, a Chinese auction with prizes such as gift certificates donated by restaurants including the new Bethany Boathouse, Fat Tuna, Matteo’s Salsa Loco, Mio Fratello, Off the Hook, Smitty McGees, Summer Salts Café and Yellow Fin, as well as local businesses and business owners such as 26 Salon & Spa, Bayco Tools and Fasteners, Bethany Florist, Blooming Boutique, Clear Space Theatre, Happy View Horse Farm, Millers Creek, Oceanova Spa, The Pottery Place, Trendz Hair Salon, and Garth and Maggie Troescher.

There were silent Charlie Chaplin movies projected onto a screen throughout the evening, and even a ’20s-style costume contest that included participant Rob Arlett, our local Sussex County Council representative.

A live auction of items including a catered dinner party contributed by Macs Catering, a smart-TV donated by Overture, a kayak given to the event by Mark and Paula Hardt, a beach cruiser bike provided by Bethany Beach Goods & Rentals and surfboards donated by K-Coast Surf Shop added excitement to the evening.

A raffle was also held, and items were given away, including a spectacular framed photo of the Indian River bridge provided by the Bethany Fine Arts Gallery, a weekend stay at the brand new Bethany Beach Ocean Suites hotel by Marriott, and four hours on the Black Pearl Private Party Bus. Carl M. Freeman Golf donated foursomes of golf to all three of their signature golf courses, as did the Cripple Creek Golf & Country Club.

Along with our eternal thanks to the donators mentioned above and the many others, Contractors for a Cause would also like to thank the committee members, Chris Phillips, Brian Hinds, Randy King, Garth Troescher and Bob Dutcher, for the tireless hours of planning, setup and creativity that went into delivering this memorable event.

A huge thank-you to our event volunteers, Dawn West, Kathy Keath, Vicki Nuttle, Alisha Hudson and Mitch Troescher. We would also like to express sincere gratitude to our table sponsors, Garth Enterprises, the Norman Law Firm, Bank’s Wines & Spirits, Sandpiper Designs, Seahawk Design, All States Construction, Foresight Services and True North Land Surveying.

Advertising, graphics and video for the event were donated by the Coastal Point, Ocean Broadcasting and Andy Timmons. NV Homes and Shone Lumber also provided funds by way of corporate sponsorships.

Thank you again to all who collaborated to make this a wildly successful event!

Please watch for our event next year and make it a point to attend. All in attendance are sure to have a great evening while supporting a worthy local cause at the same time. Please see our website at www.contractorsforacause.org for more information about our charity and the programs we sponsor in our local community.

Brian Hinds
Contractors for a Cause

Family picnic much appreciated


Kudos to the Friends of Holt’s Landing for coordinating the family picnic last Tuesday with the help of the park service and the Center for the Inland Bays.

The kids were treated to crabbing on the pier and seining, to identify horseshoe crabs and other creatures of the bay to encourage a love of nature.

For the adults, the BackBay Strummers kept our feet tapping. It was a great way to begin the summer.

Dave Jaeger

Resident has kind words for workers

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Route 26 Mainline Improvements Project Manager Ken Cimino and sent to the Coastal Point for publication.

The construction crews, from the flaggers to the equipment operators to the supervisors, have been the most friendly, polite and neighborly folks my 3-year-old son could possibly meet.

Before my son Grant could even talk, he indicated with hand motions and babble how much he enjoyed construction trucks (especially excavators). So, for over a year we visited the sites on the back roads as preparations were made, and later on Route 26 itself when the utility work and bridge work were under way. We’ve been out there with the ditch diggers in the warm sun and with the crane trucks as the snow began to fall. And every time — every time — someone would smile and wave.

Sometimes, the crew members would share an encouraging word. Some fun examples include: “I know what he’ll be doing when he turns 18!” “Stay in school, kid!” and “Some of us still play with trucks!”

Some more serious statements included honest confessions about how hard the work is, how the complaints from passing drivers wear on the guys, and how far from their own neighborhoods they have come make our neighborhood better. These are all extremely memorable for me. But my son probably best remembers the machine operators explaining how the heavy equipment works.

While measurements were being made or other details were getting worked out, crew members have shown off their machines, invited us to stand closer in safe zones, and even come over to introduce themselves. We love that! Now that little Grant can talk, Grant has said, “Mike is not working now. He is finished today,” when we drove by later.

Only once have we offered more than a thank-you. My husband and Grant returned to the bridge replacement crew near the elementary school to bring them cookies after they made Grant feel like one of their own crew members one day. I wish I could give gifts of food to all the crews who are kind and friendly to us. Their warm attention has been a wonderful gift to Grant for about half his little life.

Please pass on this big thank-you to as many of the G&L employees as possible. Please encourage them to be true to themselves as the good-hearted neighbors and hard-working role models that they are.

Thank you for your consideration. I hope you receive more compliments in the future.

Dana Schaefer
Ocean View